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Bank of China utterly useless for online purchases?


NewDominion

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My frustration is reaching a fevered pitch and I'm hoping I can get some sorely needed help from the more experienced and wiser expats/Chinese-speakers of this forum.

I've been living in China for two months now and for the first time I desired a product that I wanted to purchase through a Chinese language website, namely, the 2007 edition of the the awesome 金山词霸 dictionary software, an upgrade from the reliable 2005 version I've been using but has been experiencing some compatibility problems with my current OS. After failing to find a packaged box version of the software in my relatively small city (one smart aleck vendor answered, when I asked when she'd have the software again, "In a year - when they come out with 金山词霸2008"... thanks alot), I did some poking around and found out I could not just purchase it off of their website, but also download the program in its entirety and then simply purchase an activation code. Easy peasy. Or so I thought.

Much to my consternation, when it came time to settle the bill, almost every single bank was an option for selecting the bank card... except for Bank of China. I knew something was wrong, that the page hadn't loaded correctly, or perhaps there is a more formal name for Bank of China that I was just overlooking. But after further scrutiny, it does seem to appear that Bank of China is not on the list of supported banks for this company. I was utterly perplexed. I uninstalled the unactivated software from my computer, which prompted a little browser window asking me why I uninstalled it, to which I replied, in the cheekiest Chinese possible, that "Bank of China sounds like a very important bank, maybe you'd have more customers if you supported their bank cards."

While scanning the list of supported banks in the link provided above, I noticed something called 网银钱包, which obviously wasn't a bank, so after googling it a little, I found this website which definitely struck me as a Chinese paypal. Looked great, I was excited. Surely this place supports Bank of China. I signed up for an account, thinking just like with Paypal I could deposit some cash to this site and then buy the software through them. I do the registration and what not, go to 加钱, and lo and behold, this nice little site, well designed, looks like a good professional gig, has less bank card options than even kingsoft - only ICBC, Merchant's Bank, and Agriculture.

So I'm about to pop a gasket... is Bank of China not really a Bank OF China? I'm beginning to contemplate the possibility here that Bank of China, despite its name, and despite the abundance of its branches, is a silly little obscure branch that tricks people into thinking that its important when no Chinese person of the right mind, especially those middle to upper class folks who would actually buy things off the internet, would use it. I mean, after all, there IS a Bank of America but there are some parts of the country in the US where Bank of America isn't used at all (though I think this analogy is still silly because the "Chinese internet" is not a "part of the country"). Basically, I'm hoping to ask the other expats here, is Bank of China a lot more obscure and less used than it seems? Was it stupid of me to pick it just because I thought, through its name, that it would be a versatile and flexible bank card? While my eletronic dictioneering be forever stuck in the limbo of 2005?

Thanks guys. :)

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The thing about BOC is that they vast majority of Chinese people don't use it and if they have an account their they are more than likely to have another account somewhere else. BOC was set-up originally for business and international things, exchanging foreigners money, etc. Just go to construction and set-up an account there. Not to difficult.

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When I first got here I was advised to open an account at BOC because it might be better for ForEx, overseas transactions, etc. However, nowadays I mostly use my ICBC account because that's where my salary gets deposited.

Just open another account at ICBC (or "爱存不存" as the locals like to joke) or CCB, it's really not that hard to do.

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Just make sure you get the Internet banking set up at the same time, it isn't activated by default.

I had a look round the site earlier and there seemed to be an option to buy credit via shenzhouxing recharge cards? Can't find it now though.

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There are four state-owned banks and many commercial banks in China. Among of them, Bank of China is best experienced in the international financial business, so no wonder BOC has been selected by Beijing Olympic Committee as their partner to provide banking service during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Game.

Every bank has its advantage and its disadvantage. No one is omnipotent. In your case, the inconvenience brought about by BOC card has made you feel annoyed, but in other cases, you might feel that you are lucky to keep a BOC card.

I’ve met with the same problem as yours, but I didn’t expect that merely one bank card could be up to everything. If I were you, I would apply for a new card as listed on the web page, and my favorite card can be the card of Merchant's Bank. It is a VERY common occurrence that a Chinese person has threefouror even 5 bank cards.

Your ultimate goal is to get what you want: 金山词霸 dictionary software (and I really love金山词霸!). You might want to have a try as I did.

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I'm beginning to contemplate the possibility here that Bank of China, despite its name, and despite the abundance of its branches, is a silly little obscure branch that tricks people into thinking that its important when no Chinese person of the right mind, especially those middle to upper class folks who would actually buy things off the internet, would use it
That quote is spot on! Bank of China is not just useless for online purchases, it's useless for most other things as well. You can't even access BOC accounts from a different province than the province where you opened your acccount (though I don't know if they've finally changed this policy yet, as it's been a year or two since I checked). The only thing it is good for was as another poster mentioned, when you're dealing with foreign currency or if you need to convert RMB to foreign currency. Previously, it also used to be the only Bank that would accept withdrawals using foreign bankcards, but most banks support that now too.

Basically, avoid BOC if you can help it.

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You can't even access BOC accounts from a different province than the province where you opened your acccount (though I don't know if they've finally changed this policy yet, as it's been a year or two since I checked).

You should be able to do inter-province transfers at the counter. I'm not sure about ATMs, but you definitely cannot through their online banking.

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I have a BOC account, a very basic card + book one, haven't bothered / needed to set up Internet or phone banking. You can use it across provinces easy enough - I'm using my Beijing account in Dalian easy enough - but as is normally the case you'll pay a little extra in fees, and more again if its a different bank. No real reason for choosing BOC, just happened to be walking past a BOC branch when I needed a bank account.

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ICBC has English online banking. I can recommend them. However, online transfers in China can be expensive. ICBC out of city standard is 0.9%, max rmb45 - even to another ICBC branch.

It's expensive when you consider that within the EU money transfers are free.

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Was it stupid of me to pick it just because I thought, through its name, that it would be a versatile and flexible bank card? While my eletronic dictioneering be forever stuck in the limbo of 2005?
Let this post be a warning for new expats setting up accounts here!

...and an example of lousy judgement!

I'm not too worried about ND's "electronic dictioneering" though.

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No one is omnipotent...I didn’t expect that merely one bank card could be up to everything

But online purchasing seems to be a pretty basic function.

I suppose this sums up how to live happily in China - have absolutely zero expectations. Then on the few occassions things go smoothly, you will be pleasantly surprised. :roll:

P.S. Yes, it's better than it used to be etc etc.

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have absolutely zero expectations. Then on the few occassions things go smoothly, you will be pleasantly surprised.
It might surprise you, but that works everywhere. They even made a whole religion about it - Buddhism.
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While living in China, way of thinking has to be adjusted. Otherwise, the westerners would probably feel puzzled when communicating with Chinese people. I am really proud that we Chinese learn the art well on how to live a happy and easy life even though being placed in an unfavorable situation. It is amazing!

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...and an example of lousy judgement!

I'm not too worried about ND's "electronic dictioneering" though.

I want the Jinshan program because having something that displays the English translation when reading non-Internet Chinese documents (I have Pera-kun on Firefox) would be a lot faster and more streamlined than writing out every unknown Chinese character in my PDA. :mrgreen:

Not to mention when installing a Chinese program like QQ. Being able to read the obscure Windows-related vocab means the difference between keeping your computer the way you want it and having 5 million new icons on your desktop with QQ.com as your new homepage and sogou as your default search engine. Pleh.

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I am really proud that we Chinese learn the art well on how to live a happy and easy life even though being placed in an unfavorable situation. It is amazing!

I think this is a somewhat disingenuous remark.

When I read it I couldn't help thinking of Lu Xun and his thoughts on 麻木 :cry:

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If anyone mails you a foreign check you'll want a BoC account. I sent someone a check to pay them back for loaning us some money (we stupidly didn't bring our ATM card) and they ended up having to open a BoC account just to deposit/cash the check without having to pay billions of RMB in transaction fees.

I just had to get my "妻弟" to register 五筆快打 for me because it seems that it's impossible to pay for anything in china online with foreign bank cards :wall Why doesn't anyone accept mastercard? Hotels do so it's obviously possible in China.

Regarding QQ, you might want to check this out: http://lumaqq.linuxsir.org/main/

Open source QQ client (java-based).

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Why doesn't anyone accept mastercard? Hotels do so it's obviously possible in China.

Probably because there are all sorts of merchant fees associated with setting up visa/mastercard merchant status. Considering that most mainland Chinese people don't have visa/mastercards, and considering that 五笔快打‘s target audience is mainly this group, I don't imagine it'd be worth their hassle. A hotel on the other hand has an entirely different client base.
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